The Guardian: Few willing to change lifestyle to save the planet, climate survey finds

10 November, 2021

Extract from a news item in The Guardian (UK) and a comment from me below.


Guardian: Few willing to change lifestyle to save the planet, climate survey finds

Exclusive: poll of 10 countries including US, UK, France and Germany finds people prioritising measures that are already habits

Citizens are alarmed by the climate crisis, but most believe they are already doing more to preserve the planet than anyone else, including their government, and few are willing to make significant lifestyle changes, an international survey has found.

“The widespread awareness of the importance of the climate crisis illustrated in this study has yet to be coupled with a proportionate willingness to act,” the survey of 10 countries including the US, UK, France and Germany, observed.

Emmanuel Rivière, director of international polling at Kantar Public, said the survey, carried out in late September and published to coincide with the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, contained “a double lesson for governments”. They have, first, “to measure up to people’s expectations,” Rivière said. “But they also have to persuade people not of the reality of the climate crisis – that’s done – but of what the solutions are, and of how we can fairly share responsibility for them.”...

The most common reasons given for not being willing to do more for the planet were “I feel proud of what I am currently doing” (74%), “There isn’t agreement among experts on the best solutions” (72%), and “I need more resources and equipment from public authorities” (69%). Other reasons for not wanting to do more included “I can’t afford to make those efforts” (60%), “I lack information and guidance on what to do” (55%), “I don’t think individual efforts can really have an impact” (39%), “I believe environmental threats are overestimated” (35%) and “I don’t have the headspace to think about it” (33%).


COMMENT (NPW): Emmanuel Rivière suggests that governments have already persuaded people of the reality of climate change, but we should not assume this is true. Most people believe that climate change is happening, but other surveys have demonstrated that a substanital minority do not believe that climate change is man-made. And if we think of 'reality' in terms of understanding the catastrophic future human impact of climate change, I suspect there are very few people indeed who could claim this. We should not assume that everyone acceptes the reality of climate change. Understanding the impact of climate change on global health, now and in the future, is critical and yet is very, very incomplete.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,